Industry News

Bluesfest criticised for ‘front row seat’ initiative

Byron Bay Bluesfest has been criticised for its new initiative that offers ‘front row seat’ tickets at the Australian festival’s two main stages.

Festival-goers are able to pay an additional $300 per day, on top of their original ticket cost, to have the VIP access to viewing areas at the front of the stages.

Ahead of Bluesfest’s 2018 event, which takes place from March 29 to April 2, the programme was announced to give music fans that can afford it the opportunity to enjoy “unimpeded views” in an “intimate viewing area of only a few rows.”

Bluesfest has sold reserved side-stage seating in the past, but this is the first time in the event’s 29-year history that it has sold reserved space in front of its main stages.

Some fans took to social media to express their displeasure with the ‘Front Row Seats’ initiative.

Terry Timms said: “Ridiculous idea – time to rethink Bluesfest! Invest in facilities and infrastructure for all if you want ongoing support from your patrons.”

In a statement to Music Feeds, a Bluesfest spokesperson says they expect the ‘Front Row Seats’ to sell out.

“VIP viewing areas are popular at festivals all over the world, and this is not the first time Bluesfest has provided super fans the opportunity to enjoy special reserved viewing areas at our main stages,” festival organisers said.

“The initiative sold out last time and is on track to do the same in 2018.

“The additional income they generate allows festivals such as Bluesfest to reinvest in recurrent infrastructure and overlay costs, compete for top level artists, as well as to provide a wonderful experience for everyone who attends the event.

“The Front Row Seats are available on two of our five stages and are only two rows of 24 seats per row to make sure the experience is as enjoyable as possible for patrons who have upgraded to Front Row Seats, and those who haven’t,” the spokesperson said.

“As the seats are sold on a per stage, per day basis it was essential for our consumers to know what stage and what day artists were playing.”

Image: Evan Malcolm